Zora Neale Hurston

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Zora Neale Hurston (left) Alice Walker (right)

People often knew Zora Neale Hurston as a novelist; however, her true passion resided within anthropology. Hurston was born in Alabama in 1891 to two former slaves. While Hurston was a young girl, her family moved to Eatonville, Florida. Unfortunately, Hurston’s mother passed away in 1904. In the 1920’s Zora left her hometown in Florida and moved to New York, where she eventually attended Columbia University. Her wit, irreverence and folk writing style allowed her to become a significant leader in the Harlem Renaissance. She established herself as a literary force with her stories of African-American experiences. Continuing her African-American folktales, she traveled back to her hometown of Eatonville in the late 1920’s. Her unique perspective and passion for anthropology allowed her to write a distinctive collection of stories. Particularly, her works called Mules and Men, is a collection of folktales from her journey to Eatonville and New Orleans. Alongside her work from the Harlem Renaissance, Hurston was an alchemist for modernism.  Specifically in the play, “How it Feels to be Colored Me,” Hurston advocated for African Americans through a new form. Moreover, Hurston wrote the novel “Their Eyes are Watching God,” which incorporates her childhood experiences. No one had ever written a book like this before. Hurston was revolutionary in helping to protect the rights of the African Americans and share their struggles. She continues to influence several writers today, including Alice Walker, who shared her love for Zora through a her novel, The Colour Purple.

View the great video that explains the connection Alice Walker had to Zora Neale Hurston’s life and art: Alice Walker Shines Light on Zora Neale Hurston


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